Memory Walk benefits Alzheimer’s research, programs |

Memory Walk benefits Alzheimer’s research, programs

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Alzheimer's supervisor Pam Benner, left, talks with Rita Oviatt about Oviatt's 80th birthday Friday at Merrill Gardens in Gardnerville. The 2004 Memory Walk honored the octogenarian.

The third annual Capital City Alzheimer’s Memory Walk begins at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Capitol grounds.

Walkers are needed in team or individual entries to raise money for Alzheimer’s research and programs. Signups and donations will be taken the morning of the walk.

After registration, participants will head to the Blue Line Tour for a one-mile walk. Information on how the disease affects patients’ lives and that of their families will be available.

The first walk was held in memory of Ayer Tonge, former Capital City Memory Walk Chairwoman Barbara Tonge’s husband, who died from Alzheimer’s. Last year, the walk honored Rita Oviatt, who was diagnosed with the disease about three years ago and now has breast cancer.

Oviatt recently moved to Merrill Gardens in Gardnerville from Carson City. She receives care from Linda Foster, a med tech/caregiver, and Doris McAlister, a hospice nurse.

Many Alzheimer’s patients lose their personality along with their memory.

One year ago, Oviatt recalled fishing with her late husband and her family while growing up in Germany. The memories are becoming fewer.

“Rita is a delightful lady and still tries to do for herself,” said Foster. “I will sometimes bring in a picnic lunch, and she always enjoys that. Some days, she’s pretty alert. She likes to talk about home and her brother. And she enjoys watching movies.”

“I would have enjoyed knowing her when she was younger,” McAlister said. “She is such a wonderful person now, it would have been great to know her then.”

This year, the walk is in memory of Fran Kittle of Reno, who died in January. After Kittle retired from the Department of Defense she and her husband, Robert, moved to Arizona. Robert was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Fran became his caregiver. He eventually died from the disease, and Fran moved to Reno to be with her daughter.

“She came to work for us and eventually became our office manager,” said Krista Scheel, program director for the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern Nevada.

“She did a fantastic job. She knew the disease and the issues caregivers deal with. She made sure people stayed on track and supported our caregivers because sometimes people forget about what we do. She did so much for our agency – she was our glue.”

It is estimated in Northern Nevada 13,000 people have Alzheimer’s disease. Ten percent of the population age 65 and older is affected; 47 percent of those age 85 and older are affected.

“By the year 2025, the state will double in its number of incidents,” Scheel said, “because of the number of adults moving to the area.”

Scheel also said there is a lack of services for Alzheimer’s patients. There are two nursing homes in Northern Nevada with a locked-care facility – Highland Manor in Fallon and Mountainview at Evergreen Center in Carson City. There are five assisted living centers in Northern Nevada with Alzheimer’s care; three in Reno, one in Gardnerville and one in Yerington.

“Anyone should walk to support Alzheimer’s disease,” Scheel said. “Fifty percent of the money goes to research, 50 percent goes to local programs and services.

“Research is moving quickly to find remedies and treatments to delay the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s.”

For information, go to

n Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at or 881-1223.

If you go

WHAT: Capitol City Memory Walk

WHEN: 9 a.m. Sunday

WHERE: Capitol Grounds; barbecue lunch free to participants

INFORMATION: 786-8061;

DONATIONS: Alzheimer’s Association of Northern Nevada, 705 S. Wells Ave., Suite 225, Reno, 89502;